A$AP Rocky is hyper-aware of his absence since the 2013 release of Long.Live.A$AP. “Flacko where you been?” he asks on “Excuse Me,” a bouncy cut from his upcoming album, A.L.L.A. “Fashion then acting,” he answers later, on the soulful “Jukebox Joints,” nodding to his appearance in the coming-of-age flick Dope.
True, the 26-year-old rapper stepped away to other pursuits for a second, but that’s only made the anticipation for his new LP more ravenous. This week, the Harlem crown rocker invited media and taste makers down to Manhattan’s Red Bull Studios for an incomplete preview of his latest, which is for sale on June 2. What emerged from the speakers was an eclectic blend of sounds and styles that goes completely left from the album’s safe-by-comparison predecessor.
BET.com got an early preview of A$AP Rocky’s A.L.L.A. Here are six takeaways from the anticipated album.
It’s really trippy, mane
“LSD inspired me/to reach the higher me,” Rocky reveals on the audio acid trip “Pharsyde.” That psychedelic vibe is recurring on A.L.L.A., as songs like “LSD” recall the vibes of Jim Morrison and the Doors, which A$AP says was a musical influence on the album.
Danger Mouse is all over the boards
Danger Mouse may have only laid one beat on Long.Live.A$AP, but the producer half of Gnarls Barkley is an executive producer on A.L.L.A. and his fingerprints are found throughout, helping push that psychedelic sound. He has credits include opener “Holy Ghost,” “Electric Body,” the two-steppable “Westside Highway,” and the aforementioned “Pharsyde.”
But Rocky tries his hand at producing, too
A$AP Rocky stepped behind the boards for “Dreams,” a dark, interlude-length cut that features eerie piano keys and thumping drums. “Police brutality was on my TV screen,” Rocky says on the track, probably the closest he gets to social commentary.
And he’s getting more comfortable singing
Rocky caught listeners by surprise when he hit a mystical falsetto on the intro to Long.Live.A$AP, but this time around he sings even more. “LSD” features vocals in that same range, for the full song. But newcomer Joe Fox handles much of the crooning on A.L.L.A., appearing on five of the album’s 18 tracks.
There are quite a few references to a higher power
Rocky seems to be in tune with his spirituality. The intro is titled “Holy Ghost.” On the Kanye West-produced “Jukebox Joints,” he says, “I pray the Lord accepts collect calls.” He actually prays on “Pharsyde,” chopped-and-screwed voice and all. It all makes sense considering the album's title — an acronym for At.Long.Last.A$AP — is a phonetic nod to Allah.
The guest list is strong
Even though Schoolboy Q kind of phones in his verse on “Electric Body,” which lacks the energy of past collabos like “Hands on the Wheel” and “Brand New Guy,” there are some exciting features here. Kanye West contributes to the standout “Jukebox Joints,” Mos Def pops up on “Back Home,” Juicy J and UGK feature on “Wavybone,” and we even get a bonus guest verse from Lil Wayne on “M’$.” Interestingly, A$AP Mob is limited to some stray A$AP Ferg adlbs on "JD" and an A$AP Yams credit on the album closer.
01 “Holy Ghost” (Featuring Joe Fox)
02 “Canal St.” (Featuring Bones)
03 “Fine Whine” (Featuring M.I.A., Future & Joe Fox)
05 “Excuse Me”
07 “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2″
08 “Electric Body” (Featuring Schoolboy Q)
09 “Jukebox Joints” (Featuring Kanye West & Joe Fox)
10 “Max B” (Featuring Joe Fox)
11 “Pharsyde” (Featuring Joe Fox)
12 “Wavybone” (Featuring Juicy J & UGK)
13 “Westside Highway” (Featuring James Fauntleroy)
14 “Better Things”
15 “M’$” (Featuring Lil’ Wayne)
16 “Dreams (Interlude)”
17 “Everyday” (Featuring Rod Stewart & Miguel)
18 “Back Home” (Featuring Mos Def, Acyde & Yams)
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(Photo: A$AP Worldwide, RCA Records)